Hard Work and Good Thoughts

My work gathering and burning wood from the pecan orchard continued even as the humidity became almost unbearable by late May. On top of that, I had developed a stress fracture in my right foot. Likely, it occurred by twisting my foot while at the burn pile or by stumbling over a larger chunk of wood while picking up branches and limbs in the orchard. Or maybe it was simply from doing too much walking around every day. As it was, my Fitbit indicated anywhere from 20,000 to 26,000 steps a day when I worked in the orchard. But, because of the bum foot, I learned to work smarter, slower and more carefully over the last month. And on the weekends, FD mowed weeds in the areas of the orchard where I had cleaned during the week.

At least the insects in the orchard are mostly tolerable now that the rains have dwindled and the summer heat has set in. Most days, I use essential oils and an organic insect repellent that seems to work, though I have to reapply them often due to sweating. I still pull off a tick or two most evenings, and nothing really seems to keep those blood-thirsty devils at bay. And if the ticks were not enough, Chiggers also manage to crawl up my pant legs, leaving bites all along my sock line or outside my waistband.

But my reward comes each time I pull up to the burn pile and unload another pile of wood from the trailer, tossing the branches and limbs into the flames. Fire has always felt soothing to me. And I also feel good when my burning is through and I put up the electric buggy, plugging it in to charge for another day’s work and gathering up my gear to head to the house. I appreciate the cool of our air-conditioned home and a good, refreshing shower at day’s end. Spent and “whipped”, as my grandmother would say, I am always thankful for a good meal and a comfortable bed to rest my weary bones.

Emma and Ronnie often accompany me in the pecan orchard. And I always take my camera and zoom lens along just in case something interesting presents itself. Most days, all I manage to photograph are Emma and Ronnie grazing or bedded down near where I work. They have grown into beautiful yearlings. Ronnie is an eight-point buck in velvet. The skin on his antlers is warm, and a prime spot for ticks to gather. Emma has been having trouble with ticks on the inside corner of her left eye – I would even say an infestation of them. While Ronnie has allowed me to pick ticks off of him, Emma will have no part of it. But then Emma does not mind when I smack big horse flies that land on her, while Ronnie runs from me if he sees my hand at the ready to smack a fly. I am still surprised that they have stayed together these six months since we released them. I assumed Ronnie would take off in search of other males, which is what the bucks do this time of year. A few older bucks have shown up on the game camera and I was sure Ronnie would know about them. Still, he seems content to hang out with his sister. And I enjoy their company as I work. They are never far off, and when I move to another spot, they move too.

Some of the orchard weeds are more than 7 feet tall. It is a real chore trying to locate downed branches and limbs in the lush thickness.
Emma and Ronnie deer often graze alongside me as I gather wood.
Ronnie is always the first to find a resting spot. Emma is much more interested in food, but usually finds a spot just a few yards from her brother.
Emma rests in the shade, chewing her cud.

Every day while I work in the woods, I reflect on that little fawn FD and I had seen on the west end of our property near the old river channel back in late May, and I wonder if it is still alive. My nature (as the eternal pessimist) has always been to prepare myself for the worst, so that I will not be devastated when bad news comes. So, each day I worked in the orchard, I made time to take the buggy to the west end where we saw the fawn, but saw no sign of the mother doe or the fawn. In fact, the area seemed to be void of any wildlife except the usual woodland birds. At least I saw no signs of predator scat or a kill. I told myself maybe it was best I did not find anything, as I had seen too much death in the five years since we had witnessed Daisy deer lose all but one of her fawns, even up to the age of six months. And I had not forgotten the coyote overpopulation we experienced during the winter months either. Yet, I still continued to make the trip out west hoping I might see the fawn again. Just like I hold hope that I will see Daisy deer again one day.

Early in July, FD made a trip to the west end to pull the game card in the camera located near the old river channel. It was an area we had seen a lot of doe traffic run through in the last year. Even in daytime hours, that portion of the woods is fairly dark. The only sun that filters in comes from the outer edges of the tree line that opens up into a vast wheat field leading to the river channel. We had avoided entering the darkness of that area of the woods since we spotted the fawn late in May. By now, a tangle of cat brier and other vine, along with various woodland plants, made it impossible to see the old buggy path, and we did not want to risk running over any critters that might be traversing along the same path. So FD hiked in to retrieve the camera card, but saw no animal life along the way.

Back at the house, FD looked at ninety-eight videos from June 11th to July 4th while I was busy in the kitchen. As usual, I did not have time to look at numerous videos, many that would show a bird flying through, or a opossum sniffing around, or an armadillo scampering along. Then suddenly, he called me to the computer in a serious tone.

Seeing the videos FD called my attention to, I was, of course, elated. The little fawn we saw as a newborn is doing well and has a sibling! And even though I was hopeful that the mama doe might be Daisy, it is not her. The mother appears to be young, and she is doing a great job scouting the area constantly. Most of the videos show her patrolling the area and on high alert. She is right on track bringing her fawns out together at a month of age. They are probably beginning to eat some greens, mimicking mama, practicing running and leaping, and being watchful and on alert. It did my heart good to see those videos.

Now that the summer’s extreme heat is upon us, my work in the orchard will be even tougher. But every time FD mows between a row of those enormous trees I see a little more progress. I try not to think about the “what if’s” of the orchard’s future. There is a job to do now and it is huge. I am sure Mama Deer feels much the same about her day-to-day life raising two fawns. Sometimes our life’s work seems huge and overwhelming, but there is often goodness and moments of wonder at every turn.

Β© 2017 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

 


49 thoughts on “Hard Work and Good Thoughts

  1. So sorry to read about your stress fx. But glad that the weather is calming (rain dwindling) and insects are more tolerable. You’ve got your hands full with all you need to tend to. As always wonderful photos and marvelous vid of the fawns. Hope your foot’s much better when you read this.

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    1. My foot is improving, Paulette! I listen to my foot now… if it’s had too much I wait a few days and try again. The electric buggy really helps me get around, even for closer tasks like the gardens and flower beds around the house. Emma and Ronnie seem to be doing well despite the insects and parasites.Thanks to the game cameras around here it’s apparent others are flourishing. πŸ™‚

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  2. My goodness you are a glutton for punishment. How long do you think that you can keep up this kind of work out in the heat. I worry about you and that you faint from the heat. Yu are out there alone and that is not good.

    Ronnie is really a handsome fellow with that eight point rack. Velvet horns are so beautiful. It’s nice to know that the little fawn and its sib are making it ok, thus far.

    I’m sorry that I have not gotten around to commenting on several posts but I’m hopeful that sooner rather than later, I’ll be able to catch up. These past months have been a real test for me. I stay busy, stressed to the max and, when not busy, I’m resting in bed. I loved this post. The pics and video are great. Take care, Lori, please.

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    1. Ha ha! Oh, Yvonne, your line “glutton for punishment” is something I grew up with. It made me smile. I carry jugs of water with me, and usually a snack like fruit and nuts. I also keep my cell phone handy. I worry more about snake bites than succumbing to the heat.
      No worries about comments, my friend. I know you have a VERY full plate. You just take care of yourself – that will make me happy. πŸ™‚

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      1. Always a pleasure to get your reply. Ok so now I’ll worry about snakes. Are there rattlers and copper heads in that area? Please wear jeans and leggings and also gloves. and snake proof leggings. However those things make cause you to swelter in the heat,

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        1. There are timber rattlers and copperheads on this place. I think I make enough noise that I probably scare everything off. I wear boots, but they are not snake-proof. There are snake-proof boots – I’ve seen men wear them in the snake pits at the rattlesnake festival each spring. Regular work boots nor cowgirl boots are snake-proof either. I no longer like jeans – they are too restrictive and I get too hot down in the orchard. I wear a line of work wear from Duluth Trading Company called, “Dry on the Fly” which is excellent for keeping cool. I intend to write a blog post about work wear… just can’t seem to get around to it!

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  3. I admire your grit and determination Lori. I don’t have it for that kind of work and especially in that weather. Humidity is not my friend, and coupled with heat is a killer for me. But those FAWNS! Wow, so cute. What a great little surprise to boost your spirits. Best wishes with the big job you have there! xx

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    1. Thank you, Ardys! I am trying to keep positive and not get overwhelmed with the orchard. There will be pecans… the trees are loaded. But we cannot seem to find a harvester nor anyone to help us with management. If we can just clean up the area and keep it mowed, perhaps it will be enough to let people come pick their own (with 142 trees I doubt everything will get picked up!!) and just charge a little per pound. This being the first year and so much to do, I think we have to be realistic about just doing what we can, just the two of us.
      Fawns are always such a sweet surprise. I’m so delighted this trio is doing well.

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  4. Ronnie and Emma are becoming beautiful adult deer, Ronnie has a good set of antlers growing. Very cute deer footage of that mama and her fawns on the game camera, what would life be without those game cameras and the great shots of wildlife they capture.

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    1. Do you use game cameras or perhaps a Go-Pro, Nathan? We hope to put up more game cameras on the sixty-two acres so we can better monitor wildlife on the place. I really should post some of the funnier videos we’ve seen. Lots of night activity with raccoons, opossums, coyotes, armadillos, foxes and interaction with deer. I had no idea the woodlands were so active after dark!

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  5. I’m so glad that your game camera caught the deer family. Those two fawn sure are cute and energetic! Hopefully, they will stay in that area so you can continue to track their progress. Good luck on your wood collecting. Please don’t work too hard. Pace yourself.

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    1. I am taking care while working. I always have water, a snack handy, and my cell phone. I keep my camera and zoom nearby too. You never know what photo opportunity might present itself!

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  6. I LOVE the videos of the mama deer with her twin fawns; your place truly is magical!! Hope your foot is feeling better these days; that takes a while to heal, especially when you keep so busy!!

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    1. Well Sister, it is because of you that I am taking good care of my foot! You are my go-to nurse when I am injured… asking for advice because I’m too stubborn to go to a doctor!
      Yes, this place is magical. I’m so happy your family enjoys coming here – I sure could take those kids of yours and put them to work with me in the orchard. Ha ha!

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  7. The deer are lovely. Poor things with so many ticks. Do you have a tick key for getting the ticks off? I just got one for hiking. I didn’t know there was such a thing until a friend showed me hers! Ouch stress fracture, I hope it heals well, those can take a longtime, unless you rest it a lot.

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    1. I have no idea what a tick key is. I just pull them off with my fingernails. I used to be squeamish about ticks but it has happened so much over the last ten years since we moved here, that it’s as common to me as swatting a fly. I did make an essential oil blend but it’s pretty much worthless for tick control. On the other hand, it does smell nice!! πŸ˜€

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  8. Welcome ‘back’ after nearly two months! You were missed. It’s never the best thing for anyone who works as hard as you to suffer a fracture. Do be careful and take it easy. As they say in our parts, “Health Comes First”. Not preaching, of course, but it’s always better not to overburden yourself.
    Beautiful post, as usual. Love the videos!

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    1. Aw, Mandeep, you always say the nicest things! You are right, of course – health does come first! I have cut way back on my pace, and I use the electric buggy more, even for simple trips across the yard. I crawl a lot in the garden. And, I let some things go.
      It feels good to be back. Summers are just so busy here that I rarely find time at the computer. We have been entertaining a lot of out-of-state family this year. We joke around that we run a bed and breakfast, but it truly feels like that sometimes! I hope all is well in your neck of the woods. I hope you’re keeping cool! πŸ™‚

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  9. What a wonderful surprise it must have been to see the mamma and babies, especially after looking for them fruitlessly day after day!!! I know what you mean about the heat and mugginess! Being your Arkansas cousin, we have pretty much the same sort of weather over here! My times in our raised beds garden is in the mornings until 12 or 1, and then again in the evenings. Just too hot to be out there in the middle of the day! πŸ™‚

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    1. I am very much the same about working in the mornings – it’s the Farm Girl Way after all! I have shade around the house until about 9:30, and the garden is mostly shaded until noon. The orchard always has shade, but the breeze doesn’t move through down there like it does up top where our house is, so it can be very uncomfortable working. I generally do two to three days in the orchard, working five or six hours a day. Two or three days a week I weed, cut back, and water in the gardens and flower beds. I put up tomato sauce when there is spare time. That’s just part of it! LOL FD has a professional job so I launder and iron all of his dress pants and shirts. And then there is cooking, and in the summer months we have a lot of visitors. That is why I haven’t written much lately – we have been entertaining a lot of out-of-state family. Things will slow down in the autumn and winter. πŸ™‚ You keep cool if you can. Arkansas is a beautiful state. We usually try to do an autumn stay in the Ouachita Mountain area.

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    1. Thank you, Audrey. My foot feels better and stronger. I know though, I still need to lighten the load on it this summer and not push it. I’ve enjoyed a nice blend of working in the woods, and light duty here at the house. I’m also harvesting a ton of tomatoes which I make into roasted tomato sauce to freeze. It’s been an easy flow of work, for which I’m thankful.
      How’s that shoulder/arm doing? You are in MUCH worse shape than I. I’m not so sure I would handle your injury very well at all. That has to be really frustrating! It sounds like you’ve been doing all you can to heal and not push it.

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  10. Stress fractures are a pain — in every sense of the word. I had one that popped up in my spine that probably was due to repetitive motion: bending down to varnish the underside of boat handrails. The orthopedist I went to thought it could well have been a congenital weakness that my work finally over-stressed, but he sent me off to a sports therapist. That fellow gave me some exercises to do, and within a month I was pain free. It was amazing. I hope you do as well.

    Since I work outdoors, too, it’s especially interesting to hear you talk about how you cope: the clothing, the insect problems, and so on. Actually, now that I’ve taken up nature photography, I’m outdoors even more — and I’m learning even more how to cope.

    I’m so glad you were able to see the fawns. You have some truly beautiful photos of them posted here — of all of the deer — and it’s always such a treat to see them.

    I just saw your comment about staying in the Ouachita Mountains. I fell in love with Arkansas when I was there, and hope to go back again. So many people have so many silly prejudices about the state, it’s not overrun with tourists yet — except when the leaf-peepers show up, and the big fall craft show is going on. Maybe this fall I can make it again. I keep thinking spring would be nice, but by the time the heat breaks, all I can think is: NORTH!

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    1. Arkansas is so near us and the Talimena drive (Talihina OK to Mena AR) is breathtaking all year long, but especially in the autumn. We often rent a cabin near the Ouachita National Forest and make day trips of hiking or scenic drives. It’s really a lovely state.
      I plan to do a blog post on my work wear. I did not always have money to buy good and functional clothes, but the pecan orchard work made it necessary for me to buy new threads. Maybe it is just me getting older and comfort becoming a big deal, but I realized that I dislike jeans and always have. They’re hot and ill-fitting – at least on me. I think being comfortable is so important when working in miserable conditions.
      As for your nature photography, I have had better luck not scaring off the wildlife by wearing good camouflage clothing. I have a winter set that are quite warm for snow and cold temps. In summer I have light-weight pants and long-sleeved shirt that keeps me cool. All of my camo is Realtree print, and every clothing item has plenty of pockets for camera gear or whatever you like to carry. I do a lot of walking to the river in the winter months and there have been numerous times that wildlife has walked right past me – maybe noticing human smell but did not see me. I also have olive green tops and pants that work well too. Scrubs are another option – in nature colors of course. πŸ™‚

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  11. Hi Lori, So much to do and so little time to do it in! Do you have a Willing Workers On Organic Farms scheme in your district? Travellers volunteer to work on these farms for food and board. Mount Alexander Fruit Gardens have had volunteers from both Australia and overseas work in their orchard. It is a great learning experience for all parties.
    I hope you see the young deer family thrive via your game cameras.

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    1. Hello Margaret! I have considered bringing help in like that, but there is still the responsibility of “food and board’. I tend to get overwhelmed thinking about that. It may be that I’m so introverted and hermit-like that it’s difficult to think about interacting with others on such a social level. It’s a good thing in winter the gardens and flower beds, and mowing give me a break.
      I’m going to be checking those game cameras more often! I would love to purchase a few more to monitor other areas of the orchard area and west end (the west end is the wild and woolly area).

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  12. Good luck with your foot. I bet those danged chiggers don’t help much! Ronnie’s rack looks beautiful. So soft! And, of course, the fawns are adorable. Sorry the mom wasn’t Daisy Girl. But it sounds like the deer are doing OK. I heard a strange cry in our woods yesterday and wondered if it was the little fawn we’ve been seeing. Today at the pond I ran into a huffing mom (I saw her teats), so I’m hopeful she was warning her fawn, who might still be alive. Haven’t seen many little ones this year. But we did see a male and a female moose in the yard yesterday morning!

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    1. Are you two home for a while, Monica? I never know if your are traveling. This is still baby season – those little ones don’t have much time to grow up before winter hits in your part of the country. We are still seeing a pregnant doe on the game camera videos. I hate late season deliveries. I always wonder if there can be enough growth before cold weather. August is usually the last of babies for all birds and mammals in this area.
      I do miss Daisy and hope I get to see her again one day soon. I have not seen the deer she was running with last year, so perhaps they have moved on to another area near the river (just a half-mile from here). I hope she is well. πŸ™‚

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  13. It has been so long since I have read any of your posts. I have been not posting much for quite awhile and am trying to get back on more regular again. I have often wondered about you and your deer friends. Glad to see you still have some to stay close. Hope your foot is much better soon. Take care.

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  14. It may take me a while to get to them, Lori, but I do enjoy reading your reports and seeing the images. Like the others above, I admire your commitment to the the orchard, and I hope the obstacles you are experiencing lessen.

    P.S. for some reason the talk about snakes and ticks stayed with me. As did your work schedule. Strong lady, you. A variation of Carole King’s “natural woman,” in that wonderful song. (It’s a stretch, I know. You would have to imagine the singer is addressing the variety of wildlife and even the tall weeds and broken limbs I need her life. A different kind of love song!)

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    1. Thank you, Albert. I had not thought about Carole King’s “Natural Woman” song in a very long time, and it truly does apply. To me it is about my relationship with nature. I think it is that dedication and passion to nature that keeps me focusing on my work in the orchard and not thinking so much of the more miserable side with insects and the heat and humidity. I know I will look back on this time with a grand sense of accomplishment and pride. And seeing Emma and Ronnie flourish in that area makes it all worth it.

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  15. We all felt happy seeing the videos. The new cameras are so wonderful to let us peek in on creatures without disturbing them.
    Ronnie’s perception that quick/sudden motion (like you hand trying to swat) is something to be wary of may be valuable and keep him alive and well. Solid instincts
    Sending encouragement for your progress with the pecan orchard. Bit by bit you’ll get there ( but impressive you are managing brush clearing in the summer – never a fan of that if I could get out of it.
    Thunderstorms again here today – heat and humidity – or basic summer. (ready for real fall – not there back to school fake one starting up now. HAHA)
    A fall trip sounds fabulous. Arkansas is very pretty – with other than flat landscape – a real bonus!
    Take care and heal up so you can enjoy the trip!

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    1. It will take time to clean the orchard but it feels so good to see what we have accomplished in less than a year. Just this week though, I gave up when the temperatures reached near 100 and the heat index 105 plus. I also got into some poison ivy – it’s so hard to watch everything when one is working in the midst of 8 foot tall weeds or higher! I don’t know how you manage with all of that humidity in your neck of the woods. It’s drying up here finally so the real heat will set in. I prefer the higher, dry heat to the lower, moist heat.
      I worry about Ronnie during hunting season. There is no hunting in this area as it is considered city limits to the river – but that hasn’t stopped poachers in the past. He has a nice set of antlers. But lucky for him, he’s a small buck and not stout yet at his age. Hopefully, he will stick close to home and not get too far away.

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      1. About the same temps (95F right now – with high humidity makes the heat index 103-104. Another degree and they declare heat emergency. Supposed to be hotter next week after rain for the next 3-4 days. UGH)
        Sweating and extreme heat with poison ivy? Farm grannies would say, “No It’ll get worse if you sweat with it – spread into your blood/innards – then you’ll really get sick.” You may have to dry that up in the shade/indoors. My mom breathed in some burning ivy smoke and caught it that way. really nasty vine – so please be careful.
        You can’t help but worry, but hopefully he’ll slip past this hunting season unnoticed. Yesterday we spotted one of NASA’s deer who decided top walk off campus to check out some nice roadside grass. Then she wandered over to a closed unused gate and seemed very confused why she was locked out. (We were worried she had a fawn someplace outside, but they had locate it.)We called NASA’s security and wildlife person who managed to get the gate open and let her back inside. Hopefully she realized what a good deal she has., We think we spotted her again today – inside the fence but chatting with a tall egret. Can’t help but try and helming the deer ones.

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    1. Thanks, Henrie! Yes, my foot is good as long as I don’t overdo it. Emma and Ronnie are very healthy, and now they have another yearling that’s been hanging around here. We call him “Spike” since he only has one big antler!

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    1. Oh thank you! It is a paradise much of the time. If only I had time to venture out more to photograph the beauty of the area and the lovely wildlife and plant life. Most of the time I just get lucky that something presents itself as I work.

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